National Review Online has the transcript of Fred Thompson's speech Saturday to the members of the Council for National Policy. The speech is being panned in some quarters of the blogosphere, primarily because it wasn't much of a campaign stemwinder, but the criticism is off base as Thompson said at the outset of the speech that it wouldn't be.
One thing about folks knowing you are going to speak at the Council for National Policy, you get lots of advice as to what to say. A lot of good advice. Good talking points. In fact enough for several speeches. Also, some of your friends, knowing that you are thinking about running for President, urge you to give a rousing campaign speech.
Hopefully there will be an opportunity to do all of those things but tonight instead of all of that, I want to talk a little about what should be the origin of all those talking points. This would be the principles on which they are based — first principles. The principles you have been defending since 1981.
For Americans, these are found in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. They include a recognition of God and the fact there are certain rights that come from Him and not the government. They are based upon a respect for the wisdom of the ages, and a belief that human beings are prone to err; that too much power must never rest in too few hands. The result is a system of checks and balances and a separation of powers that flow from our guiding documents and from the rule of law.
Finally, if we want to change or alter these concepts or any provision in the Constitution, we are given a specific method to do that — by Constitutional Amendment.
So how are we doing as a nation in upholding these first principles? The answer is we could be doing better … a lot better.
Thompson's speech to the Lincoln Club of Orange County, California, was also panned for not being a rousing campaign stump speech, but it's clear to this observer that Thompson is purposely keeping it low-key right now, and giving speeches that lay the foundation for the future focus of his campaign. Thompson clearly wants that foundation to be the "first principles" of America, and his commitment to federalism.